Lewiston quarterback Donovan Jackson fires a pass during a game last month against Mt. Blue in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Donovan Jackson was nervous making the switch from wide receiver to quarterback before Lewiston’s showdown with Thornton Academy in Week 3. 

The senior was comfortable on the outside, he’d played there for his entire career as a Blue Devil. But after losses to Bangor and Oxford Hills, Lewiston decided to make the change. 

“In the summertime we had mentioned we wanted to make the move; it was something we talked about all winter and then all summer,” Lewiston interim football coach Justin Bisson said. “Donovan had some basketball stuff and there was a question if he was going to move or not, so we ended up not making the move because of the uncertainty. Just after the first two games, Kameron Caron was struggling so we decided to pull the trigger and it’s been good for us ever since.”

Jackson played his first game at quarterback since middle school against the Trojans.

“It’s obviously uncomfortable for me at first, but I had to go off the trust from my team and coaches and just do my best,” Jackson said. “Doing whatever I can. It’s uncomfortable because it’s a big step. There are a lot of responsibilities. I was really nervous, but right when I got on the field I tried to do everything I could. Obviously, it didn’t work out too good, but it wasn’t that bad.”

Jackson’s switch to quarterback has been a positive move for his teammates. 

“Donovan is a high-energy guy,” Bisson said. “He’s very positive, you don’t hear a lot of negative stuff from him, if any, and he’s always trying to pick the guys up when they’re down. Even when he makes a mistake, he’s staying positive. He’s just someone they look to. They feed of his energy, his knowledge, and he’s great in the locker room, the field and a great student.”

“I just try to do my best, help everybody, encourage them just to keep going,” Jackson said. “I try my best to keep everyone up.”

Before his first game under center, Jackson, the youngest in his family, threw the ball around with his older brothers on the field to practice drop-backs and game situations. 

Thornton Academy shut out Lewiston 40-0 in that first game. A few days later, Darren Hartley resigned from his position as head coach, and Bisson, an assistant at the time, was moved into the interim head coach role. Jackson said the transition went smoothly. 

“Honestly, it wasn’t too bad,” Jackson said. “The practice after the exchange happened it was a positive practice. There was less negativity and all that.”

That Saturday, Jackson and Lewiston hosted Mt. Blue and earned the team’s first win of the season 24-0.

“That felt great, honestly,” Jackson said. “I was like, ‘Wow.’”

Jackson is also Lewiston’s punt returner, is on the kick return team and plays cornerback. He leads the team in interceptions, with four. 

At quarterback, Jackson has some freedom to make decisions about whether to throw the ball or tuck it and run. 

“We’re running some zone-read stuff, lots of designed stuff for him,” Bisson said. “He has the option when he sees a hole or someone is out of position on the defense, he can just take it and go.”

“Get as much yardage as you can,” Jackson said on his mindset at QB. “If you don’t feel like you can get it there, then throw it away or run the ball. Just do what you can.”

Lewiston has spent the week gearing up for Edward Little (0-8) in the yearly Battle of the Bridge rivalry game Friday at 7 p.m. at Don Roux Field.

Like every week since Bisson has taken over, the team has played music over a large speaker during practice, and Jackson said the practices have been looser. 

“We listen to anything, really,” Jackson added. “From (Bisson’s) time, to our time, just mix it up and have fun.”

While the music has been blaring, the Blue Devils have still been taking the week seriously — “We’ve just been trying to perfect our craft all around. Trying to be better at blocking, passing, catching, all that. Being precise in every play we do,” he said —  and Jackson wants to end his football career with a win over their rivals. 

“Their big fan section, I want to turn up on ’em. It’s senior night, too.”

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